nder the bright noonday sky Monday, famed producer Walt Disney stood on the lower grounds of the Wm. S. Hart Park with Supervisor Warren Dorn and park director Scott Thomas to make an informal and somewhat hazardous presentation of six* buffalo to the County Park Dept.
Children and adults watching from behind a protective fence saw only a part of the drama as the snorting herd thundered off the tailgate of a truck after a brief trip from the Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita canyon.
Trouble at Ranch
Almost all morning long, ranch hands at the magnificent Disney ranch labored against time to coax and cajole the ferocious 1,100-pound beasts into a stock trailer. Before anything could be done, the buffalo had to be rounded up in true western fashion and driven into a small portable horse corral set up near the ranch office.
Only a handful of tremulous bystanders were there to watch ranch superintendent Sam Hurt and his resident helper Ray Haller get into the pen with the brown juggernauts and, reminiscent of Barnum and Bailey animal trainers, lash them across the legs and buttocks with a whip to get them started toward the nearby trailer.
In the meantime, Mr. Disney arrived at the ranch, walked down to the corral for a short visit with Hurt and look at the buffalo. Each animal had been temporarily slowed down with shots of tranquilizing fluid administered by Mr. Hurt through use of a shotgun-size gas-fired weapon. Among the shaggy dark brown bulls was an ornery cow which kept her brethren stirred up with occasional massive horned attacks against them. Livestock expert Hurt poked the tranquilizing gun through the wire, leveled the muzzle toward the cow and squeezed the trigger. The projectile, needle on one end, lodged in the cow's leathery hide and emptied into its system. A couple of wild gyrations by the cow followed and the projectile fell to the ground.
"Let's get the show on the road," shouted Hurt. And the corral gate was opened to allow Haller to drive into the arena with a pickup truck. From the inside, both men sweated and shooed the animals into the big trailer, slamming the gate shut afterwards.
While all this was going on, two other buffalo which resisted all efforts to be rounded up grazed contentedly a few hundred feet away. They will be delivered to the Hart Park when they can be caught.
Good Bye Forever
Sighs of relief could be heard from those watching from a distance. The ornery critters had generated a heap of trouble at the ranch during their stay. Electric fences had been town down with abandon by the brutes, allowing horses pastured on the green expanses to escape. Nobody, including observing Deputies Ed Haggart and Harold Callen, doubted for a minute that if the buffalo could have gotten their heads above the fence, they would have smashed the corral to smithereens and broken free.
Buffalo, they say, are able to pace a horse for short distances. They have been known to clear an 8-foot fence with ease.
But under the lethargic spell of the tranquilizer, they gave up at last and headed for their new home.
NOTE: Six were moved that day; numbers seven and eight were added soon after (see story).